NEW-YORK CITY



Date of the trip
: From 23rd May to 27th May


We left with a party who didn't care too much about birds and yet, as this report will prove, it was possible to do some good birding right in the middle of New-York City in very little time.

If you want to reach directly the list of the birds that I saw during this trip, click here.

Transport:

We left from Frankfurt-am-Main on board a Lufthansa jet landing in Newark and returned from John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport. As it is often the case, big airline companies are not better than small companies, especially when it comes to the possibility to choose your seat in the plane. A certain number of couples had been separated and could not travel side by side. Fortunately, we were able to change all that once in the 747-400 Boeing.

Accommodation:

We were ideally accommodated at the Edison Hotel 228 West Street New York NY 10036, right in the middle of Times Square. This hotel features a beautiful "Art Deco" lobby and you can have a nice breakfast close by.

Our stay:

23 May 2002. Our coach lost a lot of time in the traffic because the motorway was being mended in Germany but we arrived safely. We then had to go through all the tedious stages of security checks. The safety agents did their job seriously but I had expected much stricter measures. The flight was uneventful and we were lucky enough to fly past Manhattan Island during the landing stage. What a wonderful sight of the town and how moved we felt when we saw the World Trade Center towers were missing.

Manhattan as seen from Staten Island

We decided not to go to bed at once even if we were sleepy because of the jet lag and went straight into the sound and the fury of Times Square. I love this heart of New-York which beats to the rhythm of honking cars, wailing ambulance sirens echoed by the noise of the firemen's trucks. The neon lights which flash all around you are a lasting and ever changing show which I enjoy again and again. People were rushing about and it was sometimes difficult to move forward. Not a single bird in sight.

24 May 2002. We had a solid American breakfast and then took the coach for a tour all around Manhattan. I already knew the Island very well but was nevertheless thrilled to see all the famous sites again. We first stopped in Greenwich Village and its charming shaded streets which look a lot like those we have in Europe. The second stop took place in downtown Manhattan, where I saw some sea-birds: Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls and Laughing Gulls. In South Street Seaport, not far from the shops and large sailing ships which attract more tourists than birds, I had a shock when I saw large owls perched at the top of a building hosting a tennis club. As I got nearer I was able to see that they were fake and only used to decorate the building.

After we had visited a few large stores and admired the view of Brooklyn Bridge, we decided to take a walk as far as what was now called "Ground Zero", that is to say the ruins of the World Trade Center. A lot of personal belongings were found after the attack and displayed with other testimonies of sympathy coming from the families of the victims and you could feel how deeply moved all the people were while they were looking at them. There were sundry objects like T-shirts, flags, toys, pictures and personal messages which made you feel as sad as the rest of the country.

United against terrorism

In the evening, we were still walking about Times Square in 42nd Street where you no longer find the sex shops which, a few years ago, attracted a lot of shady characters and gave this district such a bad reputation. This area is safe now due to the many police officers that I noticed there.

 25 May 2002. The weather was still very pleasant and we walked a lot, so much so that our subway Fun Pass did not pay for its money. The New York subway, by the way, is far less convenient than the Paris Metro. All the members of the group were struck by certain details which immediately made us understand that we were no longer in Europe. For instance, we saw street dancers, people jogging in Central Park while pushing prams, etc. .

I decided to do some birdwatching in this part of the park called the "Ramble" which is located at a stone's throw north of the small lake. You can spot some nice birds in this shaded area and the first I saw were two Gray Catbirds and a wren which quickly flew away before I could identify it for sure. Then I spotted some Rusty Blackbirds prancing on the grass and two Veeries. Magnolia Warblers and American Robins were quite common and almost tame. One of these Robins was feeding a young in a nest it had built on a thick bough. A Northern Waterthrush was walking in the undergrowth, showing off its beautiful light yellow eye-stripe and two Mourning Doves were resting on the ground. Close by, there is a small lake where I spotted a Black-crowned Night Heron and a Great Egret which was really tame because it hardly seemed to be worried when a small rowing-boat slid along hardly a dozen feet away. Just before leaving the park, a local birdwatcher attracted my attention to a splendid Scarlet Tanager and 6 Cedar Waxwings perched in the same tree.

As there was a water shortage at the time, all the fountains were dry and even the famous waterfall in the lobby of Trump Tower in the 5th Avenue had been turned off. This did not in the least put us down and we took great pleasure in visiting the Hyatt Grand Regency, Hilton and other famous and sumptuous hotels. In the evening we invited some American friends out and had dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Marriott Hotel. The view you have of Manhattan is marvelous and it is a lot of fun to see people help themselves at the buffet, come back to their seats and try to find again the buffet which has disappeared because you have been moving along while eating. To get there, take the escalator up to the 8th floor, go down again to the 3rd and take the lift which will rocket you up to the "View Restaurant" at the 42nd floor. It is a bit complicated but the desserts are excellent and it is a life-time experience.

New-York City Town-Hall

26 May 2002. This was our last day in the States and to have another view of Manhattan, we took the ferry to Staten Island and were pleased to learn that the trip was free now. When we reached this other New-York City borough, I saw 2 Fish Crows and it was time for us to go back because we still wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge to have yet another glance at Manhattan. Late in the afternoon, the coach drove us through the borough of Queens and we took the plane at JFK, bound for Europe.

List of birds:

I used the National Geographic Society "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" to identify the birds I saw.

01
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
02
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
03
Great Egret Casmerodius albus
04
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
05
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
06
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan
07
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
08
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
09
American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus
10
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
11
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
12
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
13
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
14
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
15
Fish Crow Corvus ossifragus
16
Tufted Titmouse Baelophus bicolor
17
Veery Catharus fuscenscens
18
American Robin Turdus migratorius
19
Grey Catbird Dumtella carolinensis
20
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
21
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
22
Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia
23
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
24
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
25
Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus
26
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
27
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
28
House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Other animal species:

Gray Squirrell (Sciurus carolinensis)




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